Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The zipline to nowhere...

It's time to revisit a sore spot.  Of course, it involves Sterling Webb.  And now, i want to involve the City of Sevierville.

When it was announced, last February, that a zipline was being considered across the French Broad River, i fired this email off to TVA and Jim Bryant with the City of Sevierville:

Hammer and a Feather Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 4:12 PM

To: Jim Bryant ,

A question about the proposed zipline across the French Broad River

Dear Mr. Bryant ~

In all the stories about the proposed zipline, the developers' names are never mentioned.

I'm asking you point blank:  Is it Eco Summit Development?  Is Sterling Webb involved with the development in any shape, form or fashion?

The reason i ask is because Sterling Webb has left a trail of broken dreams and unpaid people in Sevier County.  You can read a lot about him, here:
and here:

People like me are afraid that Mr. Webb will tear the place up and then abandon the project as he runs for his life.  Not to mention another string of unpaid contractors, etc.

Hammer and a Feather

"If it ain't right, it ain't right."

Guess what?!?!?  No answer.  From anyone.  This only confirmed our (yours and mine) collective thinking that it could be another Sterling Webb financial fiasco.

Now, on the Teetering on the Brink of Insanity post, comes this comment:

Anonymous said...

He's doing a new zipline at the river using all undocumented workers and with questionable engineering. Someone will get killed on that contraption he has built. I hear it's a good place to buy your drugs from his Mexican buddies. How does this guy keep getting away with screwing over everyone he comes in contact with? He's like Sevier County's own little Bernie Madoff.

Oh, how could all those TVA and City of Sevierville Powers That Be fall for Sterling Webb's latest grift?  Those folks could not POSSIBLY believe this is all a good idea!  It makes me, personally, think that Sterling is buying them lunch, everyday.

You infer whatever makes sense to you...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No Tennessee justice for early-bookers and non-complainers!

According to an article in The Mountain Press, Patrick Landers and James Devane (the co-owners of Hickory Mist cabin rentals) are being sued by the company who processed credit cards for Hickory Mist.

Patrick and James are being sued for the amount the processor had to refund to the 200 (+-) people who had used a credit card to make a vacation rental deposit within 60 days of the card holder's complaint (you have to complain within 60 days of the transaction to be eligible for a charge-back).

The article states that amount is $352,598.41 (wow!  that's precise, eh?).

If the report that the escrow account was short $838,000 is taken at face value, and if at least $700,000 (+-) was guest deposits, then 485,401.59 (+-) worth of guests were SCREWED.  If the average deposit was $1200 (+-), that means that 404.5(+-) people lost their money.

Now, changing the law is a great idea, but let's be realistic:  Some Tennessee rental companies are DEEPLY in to their no-interest-no-set-payback escrow accounts.

Deep. Deep. Deep.

Nobody is stopping them.  It isn't against the law in Tennessee to close your doors and ignore the people who paid money for a deposit against a future rental.

There is NO way those cabin rental people are going to allow a law to pass that requires them to bring their escrow accounts UP to being only one-third short.  Of this, i am pretty sure ~ given the nature of the Tennessee legislators and their love of bling campaign donations.

Let's face the fact that the Tennessee Real Estate Commission is tired of dealing with the errant rental companies (i'm sure the real estate agents are tired of the vacation rental people getting preferential treatment).

Let's dump the whole shebang in the lap of the Tennessee Department of Consumer Affairs.  Let's have an Act of law called the Tennessee Vacation Rental Act.  Let's be plagiarizers and copy the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act.  Word for word.  Especially this part:

§ 42A-16.  Advance payments uses.
(a) A landlord or real estate broker shall not disburse prior to the occupancy of the 
property by the tenant an amount greater than fifty percent (50%) of the total rent except as 
permitted pursuant to this subsection. A landlord or real estate broker may disburse prior to the 
occupancy of the property by the tenant any fees owed to third parties to pay for goods, 
services, or benefits procured by the landlord or real estate broker for the benefit of the tenant, 
including administrative fees permitted by G.S.  42A-17(c), if the disbursement is expressly 
authorized in the vacation rental agreement. The funds remaining after any disbursement 
permitted under this subsection shall remain in the trust account and may not be disbursed until 
the occurrence of one of the following:

     (1) The commencement of the tenancy, at which time the remaining funds may 
be disbursed in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
     (2) The tenant commits a material breach, at which time the landlord may retain 
an amount sufficient to defray the actual damages suffered by the landlord as 
a result of the breach.
    (3) The landlord or real estate broker refunds the money to the tenant.
    (4) The funds in the trust account are transferred in accordance with G.S. 
42A-19(b) upon the termination of the landlord's interest in the property.

(b) Funds collected for sales or occupancy taxes and tenant security deposits shall not 
be disbursed from the trust account prior to termination of the tenancy or material breach of the 
agreement by the tenant, except as a refund to the tenant.
(c) The tenant's execution of a vacation rental agreement in which he or she agrees to 
the advance disbursement of payments shall not constitute a waiver or loss of any of the 
tenant's rights to reimbursement of such payments if the tenant is lawfully entitled to 
reimbursement. (1999-420, s. 1.)

YES!  Let's put it in writing and make it a law that a guest of a Tennessee vacation rental company is entitled to a refund ~ even if the company closes their doors.

These poor screwed people would then at least have a leg to stand on when it came to using the courts to get a refund (i heard one fellow lost $7,000 at Hickory Mist, being double-whammied because he had paid his deposit early and by check).

Hello?  Is anybody listening?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vic Milton is here; ask him a question

Those of you who are regular visitors to Hammer and a Feather have probably seen the name 'Vic Milton' bandied about...

... well, he's here.  He posted on July 29th on the "Sterling Webb Jumps the Shark" thread:

Anonymous said...

(, if you want to know what I FACTUALLY know, email me! Some of you including the Hammer got things all wrong.You want to bury the son of a bitch (Sterling Webb)- then stop complaining and band together and do something about it! I'm onboard!!! Vic Milton

Now, that's great if you want to email him, but i was hoping that we could start a kindasorta Question and Answer in the comments of this particular post.

I have no idea if Mr. Milton will cooperate, but i'm betting he needs to vent.  Just like YOU do.

Ask away... and, Vic, if you are reading this and feel obliged to answer as you are able, thank you in advance.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I now feel sorry for Bob Leedy!

I know!  I can't believe it, either!  I actually feel sorry for Bob Leedy!

What could Bob have possibly done to illicit even one iota of sympathy from the Hammer?  After all, he used escrow money for his own personal toys.

But ~now~ Bob feels railroaded to me.

I mean, what is the difference between what Bob did and the Fontaine Cabin Rentals and Hickory Mist fiascos?


Oh yeah, the rental companies get to spend their escrow money, and the real estate companies do not.  The heartache this combination of lax laws and unchecked spending has caused is immeasurable...  MUCH more heartache than Bob Leedy caused with his little "operating escrow" account self-loan.

Read more about the sordid messes caused by TCA 62-13-104 (B)(3),(D)(i):

Fontaine's Cabin Rentals:

Hickory Mist: (there are so many comments removed from this article that it must have been a sputtering spit-fest that included a conspiratorial kool-aid reference - open the replies to see what i mean)

I wonder how many other companies are in trouble?  When is the State going to fix this problem with our poor tourists in Tennessee?  Who knows... it might fix itself by August when the rental companies who are dipping can't recover from a bleak Spring and an uneven Summer.  Yeah, that's what happens in a Ponzi scheme.

So, now i feel like Bob Leedy is being picked on unfairly.  If Robert Vick and Patrick Landers get to spend THEIR escrow money ~ then Bob should get to, also!